Labor trafficking is the use of intimidation, threats, and sometimes violence, to force people to work against their will. The national non-profit Polaris Project, and others working to prevent trafficking, say certain populations are especially vulnerable, such as immigrants; they may be working legally in the US, but their legal status is tied to a particular employer.
Last week the United Nations criticized the United States’ human-rights record on several grounds, including not doing enough to prevent labor trafficking. The UN Human Rights Committee said it’s concerned “about the insufficient identification and investigation of cases of trafficking for labour purposes, and notes with concern that certain categories of workers, such as farm workers and domestic workers, are explicitly excluded from the protection of labour laws, thus rendering these categories of workers more vulnerable to trafficking.”
If you see signs of trafficking, you can call the Polaris Project hotline at 888-373-7888. There's also a workshop on labor trafficking this Saturday, April 4, at Patterson High School in East Baltimore, near Hopkins Bayview. It’s hosted by the Maryland State Bar Association Leadership Academy. The morning session at 9 is aimed at lawyers; the afternoon session from 1 to 3 pm is for the general public. Latinos needing assistance are welcome.
Sheena Wadhawan, the Legal Program Manager for CASA de Maryland, will be one of the speakers at the workshop. Sheilah Kast talks with her, and with Nathaniel Norton, a supervising attorney for Maryland Legal Aid who does outreach to farmworkers, about trafficking in Maryland.